Judge Sandra Dozier is just relieved that there is a live-action version of The Cat in the Hat that won't make her eyes bleed.
"Hello, come on in! Your timing's just right, to witness a jubbulous, wubbulous sight!"—The Cat, from "Who Are You, Sue Snue?"
Puppetry and the Cat in the Hat: The two go together like peanut butter and jelly. This live-action children's show, which ran on Nickelodeon from 1996 to 1997, earned five daytime Emmy awards in its short run and featured writers like Mo Rocca (The Daily Show) and David Cohen (Parker Lewis Can't Lose). The characters come directly from or are inspired by the imaginative works of Dr. Seuss, with the Cat himself as ringleader.
Despite the sophisticated staff behind the show (the puppetry is performed by Jim Henson Workshop alumni), Wubbulous World is just for kids. You won't find any of the political subtext or double entendre that Seuss's work was famous for, but that doesn't mean there isn't humor that older kids and adults can relate to. In a nod to its Seussian roots, this usually comes out in the form of wordplay. In "Yertle the King," Yertle greets his aunt effusively, going overboard in his attempt to suck up to her for what he hopes is either riches or title. He says, "Oh, my queenly aunt, my auntie Queen, my queen ant!" and then, over his shoulder, "Oh, that's not right!" It's a clever play on words that goes by in a flash, but if you catch it, it's a guaranteed smile.
There are three episodes in this volume:
• "Yertle the King"
• "The Muckster"
• "Who Are You, Sue Snue?"
Wubbulous World combines live-action puppetry with computer-generated backgrounds and landscapes, and does a pretty good job at this. You can sometimes see a corona effect around a live-action item that is matched to a computer background, but this is never distracting. There are plenty of bright colors that pop on-screen, thanks to the excellent transfer, and sound quality is good as well, with a surprisingly lively 2.0 stereo track that works out the channels most during musical numbers. The puppetry itself is top-notch, right down to the Cat's expressive eyebrows. Characters are constantly interacting with something (or someone), dancing, or shimmying in some way, so there's plenty of eye candy. Combined with the great voice acting, it makes for a very high-energy series.
Kids will like Wubbulous World if they go for shows with a lot of energy and colorful environments. The characters speak in a combination of regular conversational speech and rhythmic rhyming, with the occasional musical number thrown in for good measure, so kids who like to dance or sing along with their favorite show are sure to dig this series, too. The stories are fanciful, fresh, and entertaining, but never heavy-handed with the moral or lesson of the day, so adults and older kids can watch along without wanting to flee the room. Wubbulous World is a good choice for family-friendly entertainment.
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